Root Canal Treatment – Signs and Symptoms


Root canal treatment is carried out by a dentist to save a tooth that has been badly infected or is slowly decaying. In this kind of dental treatment, the nerve and pulp of the infected tooth is removed, cleaned and later sealed. If a decaying or infected tooth is not treated at the right time, the surrounding tissues may also get infected and pus formation is possible. Root canal is the natural cavity within the center of the tooth. Within the root canal there lies the pulp (the soft area) and the nerve. After a tooth has fully emerged there isn’t much use of the nerve. However, the nerve continues to perform a sensory function.

Root Canal Treatment Signs Symptoms

Determining Problems With the Root Canal

There will be quite a few indications that will tell you that the root canal is causing trouble. The symptoms which you can identity by yourself are called objective symptoms. Your dentist can also identify a few symptoms after putting you through a few necessary tests – these are known as objective symptoms.

Subjective Symptoms – You can guess that the root canal is causing trouble if you experience the following problems. One of the first and most obvious symptoms is pain. You will feel a searing pain at the troubled area. If you can identify the exact location of the pain, it will help determine the cause faster. If you are experiencing acute reversible pulpitis (pain of short duration) followed by irritation, you should also be worried. It is another symptom of troubles with root canal. Additionally, if your tooth discolors and swells or there is a persistent pimple on the gum, your root canal could be causing trouble.
Objective Symptoms –Persistent pain should take you to the dentist. Your dentist will start with simple visual and tactical inspection that will check the color, contour and consistency of the hard and soft tissues. The other tests which help determine the problem include the percussion test which check the intensity of pain, palpation test which examines tissue consistency and pain response and radiography test in which an X-ray determines the number, course, shape, length and width of root canal. The other tests that your dentist can perform include electric pulp testing and thermal testing. In electric pulp testing, an accurate estimation of the pulp vitality is revealed. The electric tester stimulates the nerve to check the pulp vitality. In thermal testing, hot and cold thermals are applied on the tooth. This reveals the amount of sensitivity and helps the dentist determine the exact treatment procedure.

What Happens in Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is a time-taking affair, you will need to visit your dentist several times. After the tests are done and the exact condition of the tooth, pulp and nerve are determined, the actual treatment will begin. Most commonly, the dentist will apply local anesthesia so that you do not feel the pain. However, anesthesia may not be required if the nerve is already dead. A rubber dam or a sheet of rubber will be put around the tooth to keep the area free of saliva and dry.

Finally when the area around the affected tooth is dried and numbed, an access hole is drilled. Through this hole, the pulp (along with the bacteria), decayed nerve tissue and anything else that might be inside the cavity is removed. Root canal files are used to clean the tooth. The root canal files come in increasing diameter and they are subsequently placed to scrape and scrub the entire tooth. When the dentist is sure that root canal is cleared water or sodium hypochlorite is periodically used to flush away the debris.